Many of the thrills, of course, will come from high-tech entertainment – the sights and sound of fast, finely crafted flying machines flown by highly skilled pilots. However, it may be their combination with some of the show’s more low-tech, small-scale features which will help make it the ‘Best’ of 2016.
- Ours is not a big city airport, although it does have fine facilities. It is set right smack dab in the middle of rural farm country. Air traffic is lighter and that means the airport can be shut down – a nice advantage for hosting an airshow. (It’s easy to forget we have such a fine and picturesque facility – a nice place to take the kids on some quiet evening and just watch the planes taking off and landing.)
- The pool of local volunteers is smaller than in a big centre – but they are mighty, passionate and dedicated. They may well be your family or neighbours, and many are the people who you come across over and over again enthusiastically helping out with worthwhile causes and events.
- Our St. Thomas-Elgin community is relatively small. Hosting such a large-scale event with so much high-calibre international content is not what we do every week and doing it well is a matter of pride. Locals and visitors to the area are likely to find an enjoyable excitement “in the air”.
- Transportation to the show is definitely low tech. It’s by bus from off-site parking lots. Judging by past experiences it’s efficient and relaxing with a shared pre-show, anticipatory buzz amongst the passengers
- A little bit of local history is one aspect of the event … actually a pretty important part of local history. It’s the 75th anniversary of the WWII British Commonwealth Training Plan (BCATP). Through ‘The Plan’ over 130,000 pilots, navigators, bomb aimers, flight engineers, air gunners and wireless operators were trained, more than half of whom were Canadian. In Elgin County, No. 4 Bombing and Gunnery School in Fingal, No. 1 Technical Training School in St. Thomas, and No. 14 Service Flying Training School in Aylmer were established to meet the needs of the Plan. Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary is the theme this year for the CF-18 Demonstration Team – that’s reflected in their 2016 predominantly yellow colour scheme, and Elgin County Museum will have a display about the BCATP in Elgin County.
- Small-scale “manufacturing” can be seen on display in one plane which was built by local former, Tom Martin. The EVO 1 Experimental he will be flying in the show is one of the eleven planes he has hand built. In this case, small scale doesn’t, however, mean low-tech. Though Mr. Martin retired from the race circuit four years ago, his plane still holds the highest speed for type, 442kph, and may be the fastest fixed gear airplane in North America.
- Smaller-scale entertainments along-side the main attractions make this a show for the entire family. There are bouncy castles, an educational air experience pavilion to educate people about aviation, lots of food vendors, and rides available for all ages in helicopters and aircraft and even vintage aircraft before and after the show.
- Pete McLeod flying his Edge 540 (Red Bull Air Racer);
- The Pyro Jet Truck;
- Canadian Forces Snowbirds;
- Manfred Radius flying his H 101 Salto Sailplane;
- RCAF CF-18 Demonstration Team
- Kent Pietsch and his Jelly Belly airplane show designed to thrill audiences of all ages;
- CC-130 Hercules,
- and lots more
The weather looks fine. Come on out, enjoy a world-class event and support the passionate people who have put so much effort into organizing and running the Great Lakes International Airshow.